The usual year-end round-up – not necessarily the best movies or disks, but some of the ones I most enjoyed, from high art to entertaining trash. The sheer range of what’s available should lay to rest any lingering rumours about the demise of physical media.
Two early films from the career of Albert Finney receive excellent releases from Indicator. Finney’s Charlie Bubbles (1968) and Stephen Frears’ Gumshoe (1971) showcase the actor’s strengths and weaknesses.
International hit men, a widescreen travelogue, Asian action, World War Two, sex with an immortal monster, the zombie apocalypse, necrophilia and interstellar space travel … another mixed bag of recent viewing.
Horror, westerns science fiction, crime, magic, demons, vampires, zombies, witches, a one-legged detective, people trapped in a deadly house, a damsel in distress and a film editor driven mad by cheap exploitation movies …
A random selection of recent viewing, from Nazi propaganda to British Angry Young Men, from classic sci-fi to the 1960s revival of a French criminal mastermind as slapstick pastiche.
Following the surprise international success of Gregory’s Girl (1980), writer-director Bill Forsyth was given greater resources by producer David Puttnam and made what on the surface was a whimsical comedy reminiscent of Ealing Studios in the ’50s; three-and-a-half decades later, the delightfully charming Local Hero (1983) can be seen as a subtly prescient warning about the most urgently pressing issues we now face – climate change and the need to find sustainable ways to inhabit the planet.
Criterion’s Blu-ray release of Ernst Lubitsch’s final completed feature, Cluny Brown (1946), presents this richly layered comic gem in a luminous 4K restoration. This underrated romantic comedy which skewers rigid British class attitudes on the eve of World War Two is one of Lubitsch’s masterpieces.
Ozu Yasujiro’s melancholy social comedy The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952), which reflects major shifts in Japanese life in the post-war period, receives an excellent release from the Criterion Collection.
Criterion once again showcases the prodigious talent of French writer and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol with their Blu-ray release of The Baker’s Wife (1938), considered to be his best film.
Recent disks from Indicator present a wide variety of styles and genres from bleak ’60s espionage to slick 1970s big studio exploitation, charming period comedy to enjoyable if less-than-scary horror.